Local News

Thursday, Jan 12 2012 06:10 PM

College district promises better outreach to Arvin

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    By Kent Kuehl/The Californian

    Proposed sites for a Bakersfield College satellite campus.

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BY JORGE BARRIENTOS Californian staff writer jbarrientos@bakersfield.com

Kern Community College District and Bakersfield College officials vowed Thursday to work more closely with the Arvin-Lamont community to make college more accessible there, even as a study for a proposed BC campus recommended it not be built in Arvin's city center as the community has asked.

And while a new BC campus -- suggested instead by a consulting firm to be built at Bear Mountain Boulevard and Highway 99 on district land -- is still several years out, officials said they'd work with the Arvin community from now through its development.

"We realize there is more work to do," Sandra Serrano, KCCD chancellor, said during a district board meeting Thursday. "We will continue to work throughout the community ... and continue to raise awareness of the importance of education."

That includes working with students to offer appropriate classes they need in Arvin, offering more bus routes for students to and from south Kern and the main BC campus, and more outreach to parents and students to make them aware of college course offerings and resources.

The vow by Serrano came after a report by Gin Yang, whose firm conducted the feasibility study, stating that enrollment projections showed a center near Highway 99 would cater to more students than one in Arvin. That study cost no more than $8,000, according to an agreement.

Following her, former KCCD Chancellor and Arvin campus movement leader Jim Young said the study should have included the possibility of building a campus in Arvin on donated land, projected costs of each suggested campus and timelines.

Yang said the study was only to look at "which would be more feasible." The construction of a new center, she said, is "way out there" and more detailed studies will come later.

Young asked that the Arvin community be included in decisions as planning continues.

BC student Jose Gurrola also spoke, saying Arvin-area students aren't being made fully aware of the campus center talks, or of current college offerings in Arvin.

"How are you supposed to make a decision on what's best for the community when they don't know what's going on?" Gurrola told trustees and KCCD officials.

The new campus center debate has been ongoing, with the Arvin community demanding more educational options more recently. In response, BC has added classes and resources, and improved bus routes. Still there are concerns.

"Are we doing a better job? Yes," BC President Greg Chamberlain told KCCD trustees. "Are we doing the job that needs to be done? No. We still have work to do."

Trustees asked officials to figure out a better way to do outreach, possibly by using social media. Serrano suggested getting input from students, and even walking through neighborhoods.

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